Lack of available tissue may hinder future eye research

The number of human donor eyes provided by U.S. eye banks for research is in a decline and this may hinder the future of clinical ophthalmology, according to an article in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences (2006;47:2747-2749).

The number of human donor eyes provided by U.S. eye banks for research is in a decline and this may hinder the future of clinical ophthalmology, according to an article in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences (2006;47:2747-2749).

Christine A. Curcio, PhD, of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology's (ARVO) Research Tissue Acquisition Working Group (RTAWG), led the survey of 240 U.S. ARVO members. The group found that cost and lack of availability of tissue meeting stringent criteria were the major factors among those surveyed.

Over the past decade, federal and state regulations have had a severe impact on the availability of human eye tissue for research. Even some local laws are affecting individual eye bank practices.

In the short term, RTAWG recommends that investigators work closely with eye banks and other providers by communicating on a regular basis and clarifying experimental needs and expectations.

"Nowhere do impediments to obtaining human eyes for research have more impact than in the effort to understand age-related macular degeneration," said Dr. Curcio, professor of ophthalmology, University of Alabama, Birmingham. "Macular degeneration, an advanced form of which now has treatment options, still lacks a laboratory animal model that displays the full range of pathology typifying the human disorder. Thus, human tissues are particularly critical."